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Damp or Condensation? Let us Advise!

14 September 2011

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 September 14, 2011
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Question: When is damp not damp?

Answer: When it is condensation

As the time of year known as ‘condensation season’ approaches, many homeowners may begin to worry about apparent damp problems in their properties.

Windows & frames usually get cold, so are prone to condensation and resulting mould growth
Windows & frames usually get cold, so are prone to condensation and resulting mould growth

In a building, “damp” refers to moisture held within the structure and is caused either from moisture rising from the ground (rising damp) or penetrating in through defects in the structure (penetrating damp).

 

The most common cause of dampness however is condensation. Condensation is formed when warm, moisture-laden air hits a cold surface.

When we shower, cook, use the washing machine or even just breathe the moisture produced mixes with the air around us. When this air comes into contact with a surface such as a wall or window, it is likely that this surface is colder than the air temperature, causing the air to cool rapidly and release the moisture it had been holding.

Mould in a pyramid shape in the corner of a room is a common result of condensation
Mould in a pyramid shape in the corner of a room is a common result of condensation

As this process results in water droplets forming on surfaces, this can often lead to mould growth. Mould growth is always indicative of condensation and not rising damp as it requires high levels of moisture on the surface to grow, which does not occur with rising damp. Mould growth will often be seen in cold parts of the building or where the air is stagnant, for example around window reveals, behind furniture or in the corners of a room; this can be either in the top corners or the bottom, so do not be fooled into thinking you have rising damp just because the mould and dampness are near the floor.

 The treatment for condensation problems is quite different to that for rising damp; you do not need a new damp proof course! Improving the ventilation of your property (e.g. opening windows after showering or using an extractor fan when cooking) will help, as will keeping the property warmer. But these options are not always possible and in some instances will not be enough to alleviate the problem.

PropertECO’s surveyors are able to diagnose whether you have a condensation or damp problem, and if it is the former can advise whether a special sort of ventilation fan would be of benefit. Positive pressure units work by drawing clean, fresh air in from outside and distributing this throughout the building. As they do this, they force the damp, stale air out. The fans can incorporate a heater to warm the incoming air, and some have a heat-exchanger, so the heat is taken from the outgoing air and transferred into the incoming air.

These fans consume low levels of energy, and most of our clients do not see any increase in their energy bills as at the same time they are saving money on heating, as drier air can be warmed more quickly and cheaply than humid air.

If you are concerned about condensation or damp in your property, get in touch with PropertECO for expert advice today.